Author(s): Rekwot PI, Ogwu D, Oyedipe EO, Sekoni VO
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Abstract It is now known that pheromonal communication plays an important role in mammalian behaviour and reproductive processes. Chemical communication with pheromones is one means of transmitting such information. In mammals, signalling and priming pheromones are thought to act either singly or in combination through olfaction, auditory, visual (sight) or tactile stimuli. Pheromones are air-borne chemical substances ("signals") released in the urine or feces of animals or secreted from cutaneous glands that are perceived by the olfactory system and that elicit both behavioural and endocrine responses in conspecifics. Extensive studies in insects, rodents, swine, sheep, goats and cattle have established the importance of pheromones in the strong influence exerted by the male on reproductive activity in the female. There is a pheromone produced by the queen honey bee, which has two functions: inhibition of queen rearing and suppression of oogenesis in workers and in addition attracts drones during nuptial flight. It has also been demonstrated that the urine of male mice, rats, feral species and other wild rodents contains a priming pheromone that is responsible for hastening puberty in the females. Pheromones in the wool, wax and urine of a ram are sufficient to stimulate ewes to ovulate, while the buck has a strong characteristic seasonal odor and a buck jar containing the odor of the buck can be used as an aid in the detection of oestrus in does. The mere presence of the boar at the time of insemination of the sow improves sperm transport and ovulation, while the presence of the vasectomised bull has been reported to hasten the onset of puberty in heifers and also early resumption of ovarian activity in cattle following parturition. The role of pheromones in bovine reproduction is not as clearly defined as in sheep, goats and swine. Pheromones and other allelomimetic cues can exert profound effects on reproductive activity via the hypothalamic system that generates pulses of gonadotropin-releasing hormone. Manipulations of these factors and other pathways linking environmental inputs to reproductive output can lead to developing the concept of "control systems technologies", aimed at controlling reproductive performance. The knowledge acquired on the effectiveness of biostimulation; the factor which conditions it and the biological mechanism which produces it in livestock species, allows its use as a breeding management tool. The understanding of the role of pheromones could be of potential economic importance in addressing some of the problems associated with livestock production in the tropics. The biostimulation technique offers a potentially useful and practical way to improve reproductive efficiency in livestock species in the tropics. The exact nature of the cues and the role of biostimulation in livestock species especially swine, sheep, goats and cattle in developing countries require more attention.
This article was published in Anim Reprod Sci
and referenced in Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology